It’s getting to be that time of year; yes, the leaves are falling off the trees, those constant Christmas commercials are on the TV exhorting you to buy, buy, buy. I don’t particularly like this time of year. Summer (such as it was) is over, and all we have to look forward to is a few days at Christmas time and one New Year’s Eve.
However, the one bright spot I find at this time of year is that I get to crack open the tawny port. I have to confess that tawny port is one of my favourite after-dinner drinks. Heck, I’ll even have some on a quite Sunday afternoon, curled up in front of the TV, watching an old movie and snacking on chocolate chip cookies in between sips of tawny.
What makes tawny so special? For me, it’s the rich, decadent feel of it as it slides down my throat. I love the nutty, dried fruit flavours and aromas as well. Tawny port is like a big, fluffy, goose-down blanket, a glass or two and I feel all warm and fuzzy inside and out! 🙂
A brief explainer, tawny port is port wine that has been left to age in the barrel so that over time it loses its deep dark purple colour and becomes a pale brown, tawny colour – hence the name. It’s bottled just before going to market. Tawnies carrying the designation of 10, 20 or more years mean that they are a blend of wines that are not more then 10, 20 or more years. In other words, for a 10 year old, the average age is 10 years – they could be as young as 3 years old, but not older then 10 years, for example. The blending is all done usually in house and then the tawnies are sent to market.
Most port houses worth their salt produce tawny ports. Most tawny ports you find in the shops are the 10 and 20 year olds but they do produce 30 year olds, 40 year olds and I’ve even tried a 100 year old tawny! For today, though, I’d like to mention the Quinta do Noval 10-year-old tawny.
I got the 10-year-old when I was in Portugal recently. Quinta do Noval have been producing port since the 1715 and are very good producers, using quality grapes and time-honoured traditions combined with the latest winemaking techniques to make their wines. The 10-year-old tawny is delicious, still being quite rich with loads of dried fruits on the palate and the beginnings of caramel and toffee notes coming through. 10-year-olds can be quite substantial and pack a bit of a punch, but the Noval 10-year-old tawny is so well made that it is a pleasure to drink with none of the alcoholic burn that sometimes does appear with younger tawnys.
The Noval 10-year-old tawny is great with nuts, blue cheeses and, if you’re feeling adventurous, Christmas pudding. It’s available online from Roberson’s Wine and other fine wine merchants. RRP £19.95.